Food and drink predictions for 2024 from a Montreal food stylist

Future-gazing about food and crystal balling booze with Montreal-based food stylist Daniel Chen.

J.P. Karwacki

J.P. Karwacki

December 29, 2023- Read time: 5 min
Food and drink predictions for 2024 from a Montreal food stylistMontreal food stylist Daniel Chen. | Photograph: Mathieu Rivard

Recently, local food stylist Daniel Chen posted about some upcoming food and drink predictions for 2024, so we asked, "care to elaborate?"

Daniel Chen's a Montreal-based food stylist who's worked for brands like Tim Hortons, Hello Fresh, Starbucks, McDonald's, and more. He's worked in the food industry in all capacities, from fine dining chef to fast food.

So, as a professional who's all about making food look amazing for photos, commercials, and other media, we not only liked Daniel's ideas, but thought he'd know a thing or two about where how we're eating and drinking might be heading. 



Daniel says he expects flavours and dishes from central Asian cuisines like Uyghur, Uzbek, and halal Chinese food to make their way into the mainstream’s mouth through the variety of delivery methods.

“These restaurants presently exist in Montreal and I see them in my travels, but I think they’ll begin to be highlighted in bigger brands. It’s delicious and interesting as it’s very intersectional and dynamic,” he says.

“It may also have a headwind because of the subtext surrounding what’s been happening in China right now, but above all it’s a great cuisine that hasn’t been talked about too much. It’s also personal because my family’s Malay-Chinese and we have a lot of halal and Chinese influences in the cuisines I like.”

Expect maybe more mutton and lamb, and flavours like cumin or Chinese food from places where ovens play a big part in what comes out of the kitchen.

If you want to get ahead of the potential curve to come, Daniel recommends eating at local spots like Dolan, Miran, and Le Taklamakan.


There's no modern equivalent of this, so we asked DALL-E to make something based on this idea.

“This one is mostly because the puns were very easy to think of, but it’s two very popular genres,” Chen laughs.

But more seriously: “The cooking show is sort of reaching its end—I mean, do you want to keep watching the formula of five people make fine dining plates with a nice judge, a mean judge, and a summary judge? It’s kind of repetitive—and dating shows are always looking for more things to consume.”

“Besides, people like seeing dishes of food on television, but they also like to see it in all kinds of new ways.”


Photograph: @aperoazero / Instagram

New projects in Montreal like Mindfulbar haven’t withstood the pandemic, but the trend persists. Just recently, the non-alcoholic shop Apéro à zéro opened and is thriving—and Chen says it won’t stop there.

“We’ve generally agreed as a society that alcohol is bad for you, reaching a point similar to cigarettes in the 80’s and 90’s. It’s like, we’ve agreed this is an evil in our society and we all can agree on that. It’s out in the open and we’re all having open discussions about how much we should be drinking.”

“It is a trend. A lot people around me personally are drinking less and less, and I’m seeing more work in non-alcoholic beverages. As a substance that’s so engrained in our society—it’s how restaurants pay their bills, it’s how we interact, it’s how office parties function—it’s a really big move for us all.”

As for the alternatives out there?

“Personally, I see the argument that people like the taste of non-alcoholic products, but I’m skeptical. I don’t see the appeal of beer and wine without alcohol,” Chen says.

“So, my reading of the situation is that things like GABA and Butanediol can change your mind a bit, change your brain chemistry a bit, as that’s what people could be after. I could be projecting here, but it could serve the role of holding something, spending money, and having that sense of social inclusion the same way non-alcoholic alternative do.”


“My thesis is that people dine in at restaurants for the experience. A lot of self-ordering things work, but the ambiance and level of cleanliness of restaurant is something people like."

"The back of house (BOH) is more where automation could take place… the underpinning here is that the restaurant model doesn’t work. Straight up. If I have a million dollars, hire a chef, have a kitchen and dining room, that isn’t a business model that worked in 2023. Most restaurants don’t make money and in terms of investment and where ideas are going, I see this is where the BOH is going.”


Photograph: Philipp Pilz on Unsplash

“It’s great food and whatever nutritional value they have can be so much better. It can solve a problem for us in terms of supply in some cases as well.”

Chen cited the growing deer population in Maui as an example: Experts guess there are about 60,000 or more deer roaming the island, ruining pastures and local vegetation while migrating into agricultural and developed areas in search for water and food.

And we could eat them to curb the population.

Bonus round:

  • Diet fads and how we’ll eat. “I think how Ozempic will change how we eat is a bit overblown, but I do think that we’ll be thinking harder about whether we want a steak at Super C versus nice grass-fed beef; these things do different things to our bodies and they make us feel differently.”
  • We’ll start seeing non-seed oils advertised to us at chain restaurants; crypto bros and Facebook moms will be into that, anyway.
  • Strikes and labour mobilization will start to occur in industrialized kitchens.
  • We’ll start to move from very serious Japanese knives to knives which are more ‘fun to play with’ and own, having colorful handles, fun shapes, and ultimately be more expressive to own.
  • The return of value-based eating with buffets, kids’ meals, and set dinners/table d’hôte menus coming back in full force.
  • Grocery delivery will be normalized.
  • The Girl dinner aesthetic will replace the Gen Z vibe shift.

There's more where that came from.

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